“While at Mary Slessor Hospital, Itu, Akwa Ibom, Dr. Akanu Ibiam rendered services that were strikingly similar to the later, saintly work of the Mother Teresa in the slums of the city of Calcutta. Mother Teresa gave her life to the leprous and the dying to the tiny abandoned babies found daily in the dustbins. Dr. Ibiam started a Nurses ‘Training programme at Mary Slessor Hospital. He was the first Nigerian doctor to combine General Practice with Leprosy work”-J.B Azinge, Akanu Ibiam; Leadership Through Service, Lagos. 1978. Page 82
Few months ago, the Boko Haram abducted my friend, retired Air Force officer. His relatives and friends were devastated and prayed for his safe release and return to his family. Last year, the old soldier miraculously found his way home. After his humiliations and ordeal in the bush, Wing Commander Willy Ejabena, every Wednesday, would call me and we would debate on the issue, as discussed by this column and from there explore the world. We would go further and transverse the world. The concept of Air Power and the immediate impact of this ultimate air superiority now trending the contest among the Super powers was part of our last discussion. When I did not hear from him last week, I called his line, and a young lady’s voice responded.
Please, can I speak to the officer?
You will not speak to my daddy. He died this morning!
What’s your name?
My name is Fiona.
I’m very sorry and please before you go, can I talk to your mum?
She dutifully and with the most courageous comportment took the phone to her mother, who, understandably, was clustered up by sympathisers. Intellectual, Historian, Boko Haram survivor of the killer pests died unexpectedly suddenly at his retirement residence in Kaduna.
As if the trauma of his death is not enough, from Port Harcourt, the River’s State Capital of Blood, came in this message. Chris, our attacking World 2, bled to death last night! Chris was my Classmate and while I roamed the football field from the middle to attack from the right, we were very close, as his seat in the classroom was at my immediate left. After college, we went on different trajectories, he became a Customs officer. We were going to meet for the first time since graduation as the college was planning to celebrate its Jubilee anniversary. Chris bled to death after he was shot at the ankle by armed robbers. All night from one clinic to another, the family and the very conscious Chris begged and beckoned on the medical hands to stop his bleeding. From Iam till dawn, the tragic rush for emergency aid continued from one hospital to the next until Chris started losing consciousness. At the last clinic, he offered his belt and his Customs epaulets to the doctor on night duty. Like others before him, the doctor without the least considerations turned down the dying man. “Your Police Report, please, I don’t want any problems with the Police……….” He did not finish his death sentence before Chris collapsed and died right in front of him. The poor, gasping Customs officer had lost a lot of blood!
In the same Port Harcourt, Barrister Ezeafa Osakwe, volunteered that according to his medical doctor wife, “there is no law prohibiting doctors from treating gunshot wounds without Police Report, but a police statement to monitor cases of violent crimes particularly armed robbery.” On the other hand, Dr. Okenyi revealed that the NMA had made several representations to the authorities in an effort to have this law expunged. He is disappointed that the response in Lagos State has been tepid. “It is similar to the Coroner’s law presently in force in the state, guiding the issuance of Death Certificate,” he revealed.
Professor of OBGY, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Dr. Okeze, believes that any doctor that refuses emergency treatment to a dying patient is not true to his profession. “I heard an Inspector General of Police on a National medium, disclaiming the so-called law, which requires a dying patient in the middle of the night to produce a Police Report before he or she is given emergency help…….. We have lost a lot of bank managers, top-scale professionals, businessmen, etc., who are victims of gunshot wounds by armed robbers, because of unethical conduct of doctors on night duties… It looks like some doctors and the government are ignorant of this tragedy. It is time the government and the police PROs speak on this crisis.
I have nothing else to add. In my funeral oration, as Chris’ remains were returned to his ancestors, I pledged to all his relations to forward all the details of the irresponsible clinics to which Chris was rushed to in his last moments. They should give us the cooperation and the green light to sue the doctors, the hospitals for murder.